JMJ / MMM 19 Feb 2010 100219
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ –
I have been reading carefully the postings in this topic. I want to share with you from a different perspective, a perspective of Vatican Council II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. Would you please read the following, written by Cardinal Ratzinger, asking the Holy Spirit to give us all a greater understanding, a greater share in God’s wisdom.
The following is copied from Theological Highlights of Vatican II, by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI (Paulist Press, 1966). This book may be quite difficult to get. Try Alibris books.
Cardinal Ratzinger wrote – “I want to … instead concentrate on another problem which was one of the focal issues in the ecumenical question – the problem of Mariology.
“It was without doubt an explicitly ecumenical decision when the Council decided in the fall of 1964 to incorporate the schema on Mary as a chapter in the schema on the Church. This was motivated not only by the desire to preserve proportion, keeping Mariology a part rather than an independent unit among other independent units. The move also revealed a certain theological tendency – to see Mary as a member of the Church who does not, like Christ, stand before us, but rather has her place with us and among us before the Lord, as a representative faithful Christian in the world.
“In the text, which replaced an earlier draft, the old systematic Mariology was to a considerable extent (though not completely) supplanted by a positive and scriptural Mariology. Speculation was replaced by inquiry about the events of salvation history and these have been interpreted in the light of faith. The idea of Mary of ‘co-redemptory’ is gone now, as is the idea of Mary as ‘mediatrix of all graces.’ The text still retains a vestige of the latter title when it says that the custom has developed in the Church of addressing Mary as mediatrix as well as with other titles, but this is undoubtedly very different from saying that she is mediatrix of all graces.
“All this must be kept in mind if we want to assess correctly the discussion of this topic in the Council on September 16-18, 1964. It is true that the discussion here often moved on a very mediocre level and at times scarcely rose to the level of the average devotional treatise. St . Joseph and the rosary, dedication to Mary and the devotion to the heart of Mary, the title ‘Mother of the Church’ and the search for other new titles were favorite topics of the talks, which did greater credit to the piety than the theological acumen of the bishops who delivered them. But we must not forget the fact that voices were heard which for decades we had waited in vain to hear For example, there was the significant address of Cardinal Leger who attacked the use of Marian superlatives and opposed the title ‘mediatrix,’ even in its diluted form. He said that even if the title was not without theological merit, it was none the less bound to lead, in daily usage and apart from its Christic context, to misunderstandings. Further, he demanded that the text offer clear safeguards against abuses in Marian piety. Another example is the speech by Cardinal Bea, who likewise argued emphatically against the title of mediatrix, even though he himself had strong associations with Marian devotion. He also called in question the exegesis of a number of hitherto undisputed passages of scripture which had been used uncritically by very highly placed personages in support of Mariology. Above all, there was the important address of Cardinal Alfrink, who exposed the incongruousness of the usual contrast between Marian ‘maximalists’ and ‘minimalists.’ He demonstrated the theological defectiveness of these long-undisputed categories. This pointed to the difference between the spheres of devotion and doctrine, which implied a decided criticism of the title ‘mediatrix.’
“There should be no misunderstanding. The Council did not aim to slowly but surely dismantle Marian devotion, and through this to gradually adjust to Protestantism. The aim did however have to take cognizance of the appeal made by separated Christians that the Church move away from a speculative theology that was unmindful of scripture. It had to take a sober and definite stand on the basis of biblical testimony. To see the importance of these proceedings, we must remember how accepted such titles as mediatrix and co-redemptrix had already become in theology. …… The debate, which had been feared by ecumenically minded theologians, can in retrospect be judged a debate which, despite its weaknesses, was salutary and necessary. Only thus could such voices as that of Cardinal Silva Henriquez of Santiago, Chile, be heard – voices which ushered in a new approach to Mariology.” Pages 92-95.
Dear Brothers and Sister in Christ – May the Holy Spirit help us all to see the great wisdom and blessing that has come to us all through the Church and Vatican II … and through our present Pope Benedict XVI.